The Campaign for Real Ale is making a plea to the Chancellor to confirm before Christmas that breweries, pubs and hospitality businesses will receive support with their rocketing energy bills when the current scheme runs out in April 2023.
It comes after a string of announcements in recent months of small, local and independent breweries closing down as they can’t make ends meet.
Research by Steve Dunkley of Manchester-based Beer Nouveau has revealed that dozens of breweries have closed their doors in 2022.
Brewers, and the wider pub sector, face a Christmas of uncertainty as the Government has failed to make key announcements about economic support and fiscal arrangements in 2023.
The sector is anxiously awaiting news on which businesses will get energy bill support past April, as well as a decision on whether or not general beer duty will be uprated next year (which could see huge inflationary rises in the price of a pint at the bar), leaving brewers and publicans in the dark.
CAMRA’s campaign has now reached the House of Commons where Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Pub Group Charlotte Nichols MP has submitted parliamentary questions to the Chancellor and Business Secretary asking for support with energy costs to help stop more pubs and breweries having to call last orders for good.
Commenting, Steve Dunkley of Beer Nouveau said:
“It is deeply worrying to see scores of small breweries announcing in recent weeks that they are having to close down for good due to the soaring costs of both making beer and keeping pubs open.
“Coupled with customers tightening their belts and the risk of energy bills rocketing when the Government support scheme ends next year, these closures could go through the roof if the Government doesn’t offer urgent support to save this crucial part of British brewing.”
Charlotte Nichols MP commented:
“With pubs and other hospitality businesses facing a cliff edge in support for a crisis that will last long beyond April, it’s vital that Government give the trade some certainty over the festive period. The risk of spiralling future energy costs will leave licensees and brewers in limbo as they try to mitigate the impact of consumers being forced to tighten their belts. There are a huge range of measures that the Chancellor and Business Secretary could take to support pubs and I look forward to hearing from them both about their plans.”
CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona added:
“Small and independent breweries have been a huge success story for the UK economy over the past 30 years, employing local people and reviving the UK’s beer scene and massively increasing the choice of tasty and distinctive brews for drinkers.
“If we are to make sure that our beloved breweries can survive and thrive, then the Government urgently need to give brewing and pub and club businesses certainty and make key announcements about ongoing energy bill support and freezing general beer duty as soon as possible.
“CAMRA are also calling for venues to receive more help with the burden of business rates – and for the new, lower rate of duty charged on draught beer and cider to be introduced as quickly as possible to help pubs and small, independent breweries.”
Sources of information on brewery closures:
- Steve Dunkley’s list of 2022 brewery closures is available on the Beer Nouveau Blog here: 2022 Closures | Beer Nouveau
- A similar list is compiled by CAMRA volunteers at: Breweries Closed In 2022 (quaffale.org.uk)
Parliamentary Questions submitted by Charlotte Nichols MP are as follows and are due for answer by 19th December:
- To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to extend the Energy Bill Relief Scheme beyond April 2023 for hospitality businesses; and if he will make a statement.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy what support he plans to provide to (a) pubs, (b) social clubs (c) breweries and (d) cider and perry producers for the cost of energy once the Energy Bill Relief Scheme ends; and if he will make a statement.
- To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy what recent assessment he has made of the rate of closure of small and independent breweries in the UK in the last 6 months.